6 Things You Should Know After the State of the Union Address
CSC's CEO Debbie Weir reflects on key takeaways from President Biden's Feb. 7 State of the Union and what they mean for people impacted by cancer.
I watched the State of the Union address both as the leader of an organization dedicated to serving people impacted by cancer across the United States, and someone who has personally experienced devastation and loss when cancer came to my own family. Three of my beloved immediate family members were diagnosed with cancer: my mom, who is still with me, and my dad and my brother, who no longer are. For them, and for all people who have been impacted by this life-altering disease, I am so grateful that President Biden chose to shine a light on the needs and concerns of people coping with cancer during his speech.
Today, in the United States, there are an estimated 18 million cancer survivors(1). In 2023, nearly 2 million new cancer cases and more than 600,000 deaths from cancer are expected to occur in our country (2).
Through the Cancer Moonshot, this Administration will continue to work with the Cancer Support Community, advocates, scientists, healthcare providers, and innovators across the country. In his own words, the President challenges us to “cut the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years. Turn more cancers from death sentences into treatable diseases. And provide more support for patients and families."
These are just a few of the President’s plans to address the needs and concerns of people coping with a cancer diagnosis:
1. Prioritize Patient Navigation Support
Importantly, President Biden announced that they will prioritize providing patient navigation support to every American facing cancer, services that help guide individuals, caregivers, and families through cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship — and ensure that benefits are covered going forward for as many people facing cancer as possible.
2. Protect Those Who Care for Loved Ones
President Biden underscored the need for national access to paid family and medical leave to protect people with serious illness or health conditions or who are providing care for their loved ones from financial burdens.
3. Increase Access to Mental Health Services
The Administration is advocating for mental healthcare that is affordable and accessible for all Americans. In response, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be dedicating resources to promote the utilization of telemental health services across state lines.
4. Improve Care for Our Veterans
The President highlighted the passage of the PACT Act, a new law that allows veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits during their service to access the care they need.
5. Update Our Nation’s Research and Care Systems
The President will be seeking reauthorization of the National Cancer Act, which 52 years ago set up the National Cancer Institute in its current form. The reauthorization will update the nation’s cancer research and care systems to put modern American innovation fully to work to end cancer as we know it. He also talked about the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, whose mission “focuses on leveraging research advances for real world impact.”
6. Hold on to Hope
President Biden introduced us to Maurice and Kandice, whose daughter Ava was just a year old when she was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer. After 26 blood transfusions, 11 rounds of radiation, 8 rounds of chemo, and a surgery to have her kidney removed, she beat the odds — a 5% survival rate — and is on her way to being cancer-free.
There is still work to be done. America’s best scientists and innovators cannot meet the challenge of cutting the cancer death rate by 50% over the next 25 years if patients and caregivers cannot access the treatment, care, and support they so desperately need.
At CSC, we are dedicated to fostering a community where people touched by cancer find connection, camaraderie, information, and empathy. We are committed to providing at no cost the gold standard in social and emotional support, patient navigation, and education through our global network of partners, toll-free Helpline, and digital platforms. We are committed to engaging in insightful research about the patient experience and advocating for meaningful policies that positively impact patients, survivors, caregivers, and their loved ones.
To quote President Biden, “For the lives we can save and for the lives we have lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and proves that we can do big things. Let's end cancer as we know it.”
We are proud to join the White House in working toward that goal.
1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2022-2024. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2022.
2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2022. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2022.